12 Hidden Gems in Seoul That Are Worth Discovering

12 Hidden Gems in Seoul That Are Worth Discovering

Seoul offers the perfect mix of traditional and modern wonders.

Anyone who has visited Seoul, South Korea will know that this city strikes the perfect balance between ancient tradition and modern innovation. While it is famed for its towering skyscrapers, bustling streets, and the ever-so-popular Hallyu wave, there are tons of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. From hidden temples and parks to quaint villages and colourful streets, these underrated places in Seoul offer a glimpse into a different side of the city. 

Looking to explore Seoul off the beaten path on your next trip? Read on to find out more! 

Also read: 16 Best Airbnbs & Vacation Rentals in Seoul for Every Budget

Hidden gems in Seoul to check out on your trip

1. Namsangol Hanok Village

hidden gems in seoul

Image credit: kamponwarit via Canva Pro

First up on this list of hidden gems in Seoul is the ancient Namsangol Hanok Village, nestled on the northern side of Namsan. It is famed for its excellent preservation of hanoks (traditional Korean-style houses), ancient gardens, and pagodas. Aside from sightseeing, visitors can enjoy an array of cultural activities and performances. Ultimately, it offers a dose of traditional Korean culture right in the heart of Seoul! 

Much like the popular Bukchon Hanok Village, it’s also the perfect palace for those who wish to learn more about the history of the Joseon period. However, because it is less frequented by tourists, it makes for an ideal stop for exploring Seoul off the beaten path.

Address: 04626  28, Toegye-ro 34-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul 

Also read: 10 Stunning Hanoks in South Korea You Can Book on Airbnb

2. Seorae Village

Image credit (L-R): Luvepoli; Clément Chevallier

Seorae Village, also known as Little France, is a charming and opulent French enclave in Banpo-dong, Seocho-gu. In the ’80s, the French School of Seoul transferred to the area and eventually became home to a thriving community of French expats. Now, it is dotted with French restaurants, cafes, bars, bakeries, and hip boutiques! Whether you’re a foodie, a culture enthusiast, or just seeking a unique experience, this village offers a taste of France off the beaten path in Seoul.

Address: 32, Seorae-ro, Banpo 4(sa)-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul  

Also read: 15 Affordable Airbnbs and Vacation Rentals in Seoul for Budget Travellers

3. Mullae Art Village

Image credit: Walking On

If you haven’t noticed already, one of the best ways to find hidden gems in Seoul is to head to its underrated villages and streets! Another charming neighbourhood worthy of your attention is the Mullae Art Village in the western part of the city. 

Originally, Mullae was an industrial complex known for its steel factories, but was later flocked by young artists and creatives for its low-cost rent. Today, it offers an interesting mix of old industrial culture, thriving culinary spots, art studios, and novelty shops — the ultimate hipster’s den, no doubt. 

Address: Mullae-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul

4. Nijimori Studio

Image credit: YOUR EYEZ

Travel back in time to Japan’s Edo period when you enter Nijimori Studio! You’ll find this theme park (and popular filming location) in Dongducheon-si, Gyeonggi-do Province, which is just about a one-hour drive from Seoul. Here, art lovers are let in on a unique and immersive experience. Here, visitors will spot traditional Japanese buildings and street ornaments, small gift shops, and eateries selling various local delicacies. You can even rent a kimono or oyori and stroll along the park to complete your experience! 

Address: Gyeonggi-do, Dongducheon-si, Cheonbosan-ro, 567-12 Seoul

5. Seonyudo Island Park

hidden gems in seoul

Image credit (L-R): Sanga Park; MoTivStudio via Canva Pro

Looking for a quiet escape that’s just a stone’s throw away from the clamour of downtown Seoul? Seonyudo Island Park, one of Seoul’s best-kept secrets, offers you just that! This pocket of nature sits right in the middle of the iconic Han River, and was formerly used as a water filtration plant. Now, it’s a quaint urban park with trails, botanical gardens, and picnic spots where folks gather to enjoy a day in nature. 

Fun fact: The word seonyu literally translates to “a place of scenic beauty.”

Address: 07200  343, Seonyu-ro, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, Korea

6. Ihwa Mural Village

Image credit: 4K KOREA

Tucked away in northern Seoul near Naksan Park, there lies a colourful and vibrant neighbourhood unlike any other in the city. The Ihwa Mural Village (one of the most underrated places in Seoul) boasts beautiful street art, trendy cafes, and scenic cityscapes. Over the years, different artists have conquered its walls and alleyways, transforming the area into a living work of art today. Undoubtedly, it makes for a delightful and unique experience, especially for art and culture lovers. 

Address: 110-510 7-9 Naksan 3-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul

7. Eunpyeong Hanok Village

hidden gems in seoul

Image credit: SeongPhil Jang

Another amusing neighbourhood that offers a glimpse into traditional Korean culture and architecture is the Eunpyeong Hanok Village. This hidden gem situated at the foot of Bukhansan (or Bukhan Mountain) is known for its well-preserved collection of hanok, temples, and cultural halls, as well as its peaceful atmosphere. 

It is also less touristy (read: fewer crowds) compared to other hanok villages in Seoul, yet still offers a taste of the city’s rich history. When wandering the village, you’ll feel as though you’ve jumped back in time to much simpler times! 

Address: 127-27 Jingwan-dong, Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul

8. Jeongdong Observatory

Views of the Deoksugung Palace from the observatory | Image credit: Mpling via Canva Pro

Getting a bit worn out from all the walking and sightseeing? If you’re exploring Seoul off the beaten path, then you might as well skip places like Namsan Tower and Seoul Sky. Instead, spend some downtime at the Jeongdong Observatory in Seoul City Hall Seosomun Building. Located on the 13th floor is a sky cafe-and-lounge called Cafe Darak, which lets you relax, sip on yummy coffee, and take in magnificent views of the Deoksugung Palace.

Address: 15, Deoksugung-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul

Also read: 15 Unique Cafes in Seoul for Coffee, Brunch, & More!

9. Cheonggyecheon Secondhand Book Street

Image credit: 4K SEOUL

Any book lovers and avid readers here? Cheonggyecheon Secondhand Book Street is just the place to be! A haven home to all things literature, you’ll be surrounded by stacks of reads, from classic novels to contemporary bestsellers and everything in between. This street in Dongdaemun is lined with tons of secondhand bookshops, each one offering a treasure trove of literary gems waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re a serious book collector or simply interested in looking for a one-of-a-kind spot in the city, a stroll here is always a good idea!

Address:  20, Jangchungdan-ro 13-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul

Also read: 12 Beautiful Libraries & Bookstores to Visit Around Asia

10. Gwanaksan

hidden gems in seoul

Image credit: Guillaume 1995

Up for more nature adventures in the city? Gwanaksan (or Mount Gwanak) in southern Seoul makes for the perfect morning hike with its beautiful sights of the city skyline! Thanks to its close proximity to the city and accessible hiking trails, it offers a refreshing outdoor experience for both beginners and season hikers. 

When you reach the top of the mountain, you’ll find a beautiful hidden temple perched on the side of the peak. So, who’s ready to break out a sweat in exchange for a rewarding and marvellous view?

Address: Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul 08791 

11. Subway markets (Multiple locations)

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Underground or subway markets in Seoul offer a unique shopping experience that can only be found in this city. These typically offer a wide variety of products; from fresh produce to home goods to trendy clothing and even K-pop merch! That said, these markets are must-visit hidden gems in Seoul, especially for shopaholics. 

One of the popular subway markets is the Express Bus Terminal Underground Shopping Centre, which features two levels and hundreds of stores. Alternatively, the Sindorim Underground Shopping Centre offers a huge selection of clothing and beauty products, as well as local snacks and delicacies.

Also read: 10 Tips for Shopping in Seoul, According to Frequent Travellers

12. Seochon Village

Image credit: Luvepoli

Seochon Village is one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Jongno-gu, which offers the perfect balance of ancient Korean heritage and modern wonders. Its long alleyways are lined with restored hanok, offering a glimpse into Korea’s traditional way of life. Here, visitors can also enjoy afternoon tea or coffee, and explore small shops selling Korean handicrafts and accessories. 

On top of these, the area is quite known for its thriving art scene, with its numerous art studios and galleries. Overall, it makes for an interesting destination for a peak into the city’s burgeoning culture and history!

Address: 28-1 Tongui-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Also read My 10-Day Seoul Itinerary: What to See, Eat, and Do!

Already eyeing which of these hidden gems in Seoul to add to your itinerary? Perhaps you’ve already explored Seoul off the beaten path! We’d love to know which spots you’ve been to and which ones you recommend. Share them with us on our Facebook page or tag us on your Seoul travel snapshots @tripzillamag!

Facebook image credit (right): travel oriented | Flickr

About Author

Andrea Larice Yap
Andrea Larice Yap

Andrea is a writer and creative individual based in Manila. This tiny human runs on iced coffee, music and films. You’ll probably catch her daydreaming in a park or jotting down random words to to put in a song. Otherwise, expect her taking a dive in the pool of uncertainty called “life.”